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Digitising Slot Cars: Scalextric and Slot.It

Image of Matt TaylorMATT TAYLOR takes us through how to convert some of your cars to Scalextric digital.

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Following on from my previous article about Introducing Digital, in this article I will show you how to convert your ordinary Scalextric cars to digital. New cars do not have decoders fitted inside them, so you will have to fit them yourselves.

This article assumes you have purchased a digital starterset or that you are converting your existing starter set to digital. This can be done by adding a digital base unit or start line, available individually or as part of a set.

Just a few of the components that digital layouts can intergrate.

When you buy a car you will find that the majority of Scalextric cars are Digital Plug Ready (DPR). This means that the car is fitted with a blanking plate that can be removed and replaced with a decoder. A non-DPR car is a little trickier to convert, but not beyond anyone with a basic skill in soldering.

The selection of decoders offered by Scalextric.

A DPR car is very easy to convert; all you need is a screwdriver. The Gaugemaster GM592 Slot Car Tool Set gives you some nice screwdrivers and a pinion puller. There are two types of decoders for DPR cars: C8515, and C8516. The first, C8515, is the most commonly used as this is designed primarily for saloon style cars. C8516 is the one you would fit inside a single seater; an F1 car, for example. There are always exceptions, so it is best to check before you buy a decoder. As long as the car is described as 'DPR', it will be one of these two decoders.

It is this easy with the DPR cars. Seen here is the C8515 decoder.

To fit a decoder into to a DPR car all you need to do is unscrew the blanking plate on the bottom of the car. Then disconnect the part you have freed and plug in the decoder. All that is left is to screw the decoder into the chassis, where the blanking plate once was and that is the decoder fitting complete. Now that your decoder is fitted you need to bind the car to the handset you wish to control it with and you are ready to race.

The C8516 is just as easy as the C8515 to instal.

Non-DPR cars are a little trickier - these cars do not have factory-fitted provision for a decoder. You will find that cars that lack DPR are at the cheaper end of the price range, or models who have yet to have their chassis upgraded since the initial design. If you have one of these cars you need to undertake a little more work, but it is easily done.

The C8516 is just as easy as the C8515 to install.

To ‘chip’ or insert a decoder into a non-DPR car you will need a non-DPR decoder. Scalextric have produced the C7005, but because the majority of their cars are DPR ready they can sometimes be harder to get hold of.

Recently Scalextric have partnered with Slot.It to allow users to upgrade their cars using Slot It parts. Slot.It have also produced the SP15C , an in-car chip is designed to be 100% natively compatible with Scalextric’s digital system. It contains the original Hornby firmware and, for this reason, once installed it will behave just like a Scalextric chip as far as SSD is concerned.

The SP15C installed in a Slot.It car.

You will see from the picture above that the decoder is supplied with connections on the wires. If you are fitting the decoder into a Policar or Slot.It car then these clip into the wiring inside the car. The decoder then clips into place in the chassis.

If you are installing it into a non-DPR car then you will need to carefully remove the connectors. You can see from the image of the decoder above that the wires coming from the end of the board with the capacitor (the silver cylinder) need to be connected to the electrical pickups of the car. The wires wires on the other side go to the motor. These will need to be soldered on.


The Ferrite Man, protecting your motors.

Be careful here as it is easy to forget a key element; a 'Ferrite Man'. This small device, which is supplied with the chip, should be fitted across the motor terminals. This is required to protect the decoder and stop any electrical interference from the motor. Once this is attached to the motor along with the second pair of wires, you are ready to go. Now, as with the DPR cars, all you need to do is to bind the car to your desired handset.

Hopefully, this article has given you some insight on how to install decoders, as well as show you how easy it is to adapt other manufacturers' cars to the Scalextric digital system too.

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